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Navy and Marine Corps Medical News 

September 8, 2000 

Navy and Marine Corps Medical News (MEDNEWS) is a weekly 
compendium of news and information contributed by commands 
throughout the Navy medical department . Information contained 
in MEDNEWS stories is not necessarily endorsed by Navy Bureau of 
Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) , nor should it be considered 
official Navy policy. 

BUMED distributes MEDNEWS to Sailors and Marines, their 
families, civilian employees and retired Navy and Marine Corps 
families. Further distribution is highly encouraged. 

Stories in MEDNEWS use these abbreviations after a Navy 
medical professional ' s name to show affiliation: MC - Medical 
Corps (physician) ; DC - Dental Corps; NC - Nurse Corps; MSC - 
Medical Service Corps (clinicians, researchers and 
administrative managers) . Hospital Corpsmen (HM) and Dental 
Technician (DT) designators are placed in front of their names. 


Contents for this week's MEDNEWS: 

- Suicide prevention training 

- New SMO comes aboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

- Naval Hospital takes its training to the fleet 

- DoD attacks ecstasy drug use 

- TRICARE question and answer 

- Anthrax question and answer 

- Healthwatch: Vegetables provide powerful medicine 



Headline: Suicide prevention training 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of Sailors and 
Marines . In an effort to combat this killer within our ranks, 
the Navy and Marine Corps have teamed up to produce a video 
training package called "Suicide Prevention: Taking Action - 
Saving Lives. " 

The package contains an 18-minute video, facilitator's 
manual, overhead transparencies, and has been designed to help 
standardize training throughout the fleet. It is for use by 
Navy leaders, in conjunction with chaplains, family service 
centers, health promotion coordinators, and medical treatment 
facilities, to meet suicide awareness and prevention training 
requirements . Preliminary research indicates that this training 
is best conducted with groups of 15 to 25 people to promote 
discussion and deal with practical questions . 

The training package was produced in consultation with 

nationally recognized subject matter experts from the American 
Association of Suicidology . The video uses a variety of 
scenarios to illustrate practical ways to intervene with people 
who are at risk. The intent of the training is not to teach 
sailors to be counselors, but to show how to seek help for 
shipmates in need by working with the chain of command and local 
assistance resources . 

Copies are available for Navy and Marine Corps commands at 
the defense visual information website at Orders may be placed through the 
site's davis/ditis search option found on the left-side toolbar 
- then choosing the pin/icn search option and entering pin 
number 806377. 

To support local computer-aided presentations , facilitators 
can download copies of the manual and transparencies via 
NAVPERSCOM (PERS-601) website at or from the health 
promotion section of navy environmental health center website at 
www-nehc . med . navy . mil /hp/ suicide/pres /index . htm. 

Videotape endorsement of this training by Navy and Marine 
Corps senior leadership can be found on lifelines quality of 
life (QOL) broadcast network at 

The point of contact is Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Kennedy, NAVPERSCOM 
(PERS-601B) , at (901) 874-4256/dsn 882, or (e-mail) 
p601b@persnet . navy .mil . 


Headline: New SMO comes aboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Cmdr. Louis Valbracht took over the reins as the new senior medical 
officer (SMO) aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN and is looking forward to 
practicing some real medicine . 

"This is the ultimate for me, " Valbracht said. "The Navy has 
presented me with the opportunity to practice medicine the way I want to 
practice . " 

As the senior physician for the battle group, Valbracht is tasked 
with every thing from health promotion to overseeing surgery. A 19-year 
Navy veteran, with four years as a Hospital Corpsman Second Class, he 
spent seven years in a private practice prior to joining the Medical 
in 1985. 

While in the private sector, Valbracht took a holistic approach to 
medicine, which means looking at the patient as a whole person rather 

concentrating on the individual ailment. "I made house calls, " the 

doctor said with a smile. "I took care of people from birth to death. " 
Valbracht described himself as one of the last doctors of the 'Golden Age 
of Medicine ' before HMO-style medicine took over. 

As the new SMO he has taken notice of the professionalism of not 


his department but the rest of the ship as well . "This is one of the 
smoothest run ships I've been on as well as the cleanest, " he said. "And 
I couldn't ask for any more out of a staff. " 

During his stay aboard, Valbracht has three goals in mind - 
increasing birth month recall numbers, reorganizing Lincoln ' s walking 
blood bank, and starting a health promotion program. 

"Right now, just being the SMO is a full time job, " he said. "But 


things smooth out, I'll have more of an opportunity to concentrate on 


issues. " 


Headline: DoD attacks ecstasy drug use 

By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service 

WASHINGTON - What drug comes in tablets, makes "painful " 
realities go away and is popular among hedonistic young people 
today — including some service members? 

The answer is an illegal "designer" drug called Ecstasy, 
also known as "Adam, " "XTC, " "Clarity" and "Essence, " among 
other street names. Its use by service members increased 
markedly in fiscal 1999, and that ' s a concern to the Department 
of Defense, " said Army Col . Mick Smith, science and testing 
officer of DoD's Office of the Coordinator for Drug Enforcement 
Policy and Support. 

DoD has tracked Ecstasy and service members ' use since the 
early 1990s. "Our primary concern was that this was a popular 
drug in Europe, and we had service members stationed there, " 
Smith said. DoD mandated servicewide random testing for Ecstasy 
in 1997. "Ecstasy use is still not as prevalent as use of 
marijuana or cocaine. " 

Ecstasy is the common name for 3, 4- 
methylenedioxymethamphetamine , a synthetic, psychoactive drug. 
It has no medical value and cannot be prescribed legally, Smith 
said. The drug is mostly manufactured in secret labs in the 
Netherlands and Belgium, with worldwide distribution arranged by 
organized crime. Most people who use Ecstasy range in age from 
14 to 25, with 18 being the most common age, he said. 

When ingested, Ecstasy is quickly absorbed into the user's 
bloodstream, Smith said. It goes to the brain and causes a 
massive release of a natural chemical called serotonin. 

"Serotonin is a chemical that makes us feel good, so the 
Ecstasy user feels euphoria and a heightening of his or her 
senses, " he said. "The user will also experience increased heart 
rate, increased energy level and may hallucinate." One "hit" of 
Ecstasy, which can cost up to $30, may last four to six hours, 
he added. 

However, Ecstasy has a dark downside not readily apparent 
to the "invincible" young people who use it. 

"Recent scientific evidence has shown that even small 
amounts of Ecstasy damage the nerve cells that produce serotonin 
and cause permanent brain damage, " Smith said. "Users become 
depressed and suffer from memory loss. Some chronic users become 
permanently depressed. " 

Smith notes that Ecstasy has been popular since the late 
1980s among young people overseas, particularly in Europe. The 
drug has become a signature of youthful crowds that dance all 

night in packed, overheated clubs called "raves. " The drug has 
crossed the Atlantic in force: U.S. hospitals participating in 
the Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that Ecstasy-related 
emergency room incidents increased nationwide from 250 in 1994, 
to 637 in 1997, to 1,142 in 1998. 

Estasy abuse can be dangerous. "Users taking too much 
Ecstasy may become dehydrated, have elevated temperature, have a 
drop in blood pressure, have a seizure, and die, " Smith said. 
"There have been numerous reports of young people dying after 
Ecstasy use. " 

Each 300 milligram Ecstasy tablet contains about 75 to 150 
milligrams of the drug, often mixed with other chemicals, Smith 
said. The tablets may be branded with logos such as butterflies, 
lightning bolts, zodiac signs, stars and clovers. 

The president ' s Office of National Drug Control Policy 
reports that most Ecstasy comes from Europe, but noted recently 
that the Drug Enforcement Administration seized five clandestine 
Ecstasy labs in the United States in early 1999. 

The U.S. military takes service members' drug abuse 
seriously. It uses education and deterrence — most notably in 
the form of random urinalyses testing — to reduce drug demand 
within its ranks, Smith said. These efforts continue to be 
successful, he said, pointing to the relatively low number of 
service members who are testing positive for illegal drug use. 

DoD conducted 2,273,998 urinalyses in fiscal 1999, 
according to Smith. Marijuana positives were 12,006, cocaine 
positives were 2,839, met hamphet amine positives were 807, 
Ecstasy positives were 432, and lysergic acid diethylamide — 
LSD — positives were 325. 

Additionally, the Defense Department has worked for three 
years to develop a better drug test, Smith said. 

"Next year, DoD will implement a better screening process 
in its random drug testing program that will be more sensitive 
and identify more Ecstasy users, " he said. "DoD has also been 
working with law enforcement officials to track and identify 
sources of supply and regions where Ecstasy use is most 
prevalent . The largest recent increase in use has been in the 
Northeast . " 

Using Ecstasy violates Article 112-A of the Uniform Code of 
Military Justice, Smith said. The article outlaws the knowing 
use of any illegal drug in the military. Drug users are subject 
to punitive discharges, prison or both. 

"Many drug users believe that they will not get caught, but 
when they do get caught in a random drug test, the consequences 
are harsh, " he concluded. 


Headline: TRICARE question and answer 

Question: How will TRICARE Senior Prime work? 
Answer: TRICARE Senior Prime, DoD's Medicare Subvention 
program, will operate similar to a Medicare at-risk health 
maintenance organization (HMO) , with the goal of becoming a 
fully participating Medicare HMO in the future. All care must be 
obtained either by or through your Primary Care Manager at the 

MTF . 


Headline : Anthrax question and answer 

Question: Has the anthrax vaccine been linked to illnesses 
among Persian Gulf War veterans? 

Answer: No. Several independent nationally renowned 
scientific groups have addressed this issue and have found no 
evidence to link anthrax vaccine with illnesses among Gulf War 
veterans. Symptoms have been reported both by Gulf War veterans 
who were vaccinated and those who were not . The Institute of 
Medicine, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War 
Veterans ' Illnesses, National Institute of Health, and the 
Defense Science Board have reviewed the correlation and 
concluded that the anthrax vaccine does not explain the reported 
chronic effects associated with illnesses among Gulf War 
veterans . 

There have been several unsubstantiated allegations in the 
media and elsewhere about experimental vaccines that may have 
contained non-FDA-licensed substances. Only the FDA-licensed 
anthrax vaccine was used then or now. 


Headline: Healthwatch: Vegetables Provide Powerful Medicine 
From Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 

What food group can reduce your risk of cancer by 30 
percent, protect against heart disease and colds, have anti- 
bacterial capabilities, and are low in calories and high in 
fiber? These superstar foods are vegetables! 

Check out the super powers of these vegetables . 

Spinach, made popular by the cartoon character Popeye, is 
one of the many leafy green vegetables that have super powers. 
It is a healthy source of iron and beta carotene. Beta carotene 
acts as a disabler of a potential number of cancer causing 
substances , and is a rich source of vitamin K, which is 
essential for blood clotting. It also contains vitamin D, 
magnesium, boron and calcium, all of which are essential for 
building strong bones. 

Broccoli is another powerful leafy green superstar . In 
addition to being an excellent source of beta carotene, broccoli 
is a great source of vitamin C, calcium and fiber. 

The potato achieves superstar status when it is 
unadorned. A modest potato has zero fat, lots of fiber, complex 
carbohydrates and vitamin C. And be sure to eat the skin, as 
most of the potato's nutrients are found there. 

Aside from their powerful aroma, onions and garlic, are 
considered powerful vegetables . Onions contain organosul fides, 
which are the substances that give them their taste and smell . 
Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, 
suggest that organosulfides appear to prevent the body from 
turning chemicals in the liver into toxic substances. 

Garlic is one of the heart ' s favorite vegetables because of 
its properties that improve blood clotting and circulation. It 
lowers blood pressure in people that suffer from hypertension. 

Garlic also has qualities to defend the body against colds and 

According to Registered Dietitian LT Kristen Moe, MSC, at 
Naval Hospital Charleston, SC, "Vegetables slow down or reverse 
many of the steps that result in cancer. It is important to 
note that research is leaning toward the benefits of eating 
whole fruits and vegetables rather that taking vitamin and 
mineral supplements . " 


Comments about and ideas for MEDNEWS are welcome . Story 
submissions are highly encouraged. Contact MEDNEWS editor, at 
email:; telephone 202-762-3218, (DSN) 
762, or fax 202-762-3224.